Does self-help software = self-help books = fast food = tobacco?

My monthly credit card statement has an eerie similarity to my book shelf. Recurring web-based software subscription charges for unused apps I gifted myself to better streamline my wildly out of control life.

The similarity? All those lonely self-help books on my book shelves (“Getting things done” being the loneliest). I pick ’em up, bury my nose for probably 3-4 hrs over 3-4 days, then “Adieu! Good-bye! It’s time for Top-Chef.”

Yes, I was overcome by the sales-pitch word voodoo. There was a large amount of serenity I was missing by not using this software. Much like a pack of smokes, no? No big discovery, but there’s much the same marketing tactics in selling an organization app as there is in selling a Big Mac. Albeit one has a special sauce (Basecamp).

What I’m trying to discern, however, is which side of the tracks these products reside on. Some kind of malaise-inducing product pushing us farther away from a practical existence? Or well-intentioned culture of self-help in a more consumable, digital format?

We all, of course, are businesses and thus create word voodoo to catch the passers-by. We all (the development community) subscribe to some form of a “build software which ‘maximizes help’ and ‘minimizes learning-curve’ mantra”.

It’s an interesting time, however, to consider that the applications we use (and sell) are becoming a daily staple, like food. Some are fatty. Some are lean and healthy. Some sit and rot in the digital fridge.

So, as much as we are what we eat, are we also what we subscribe to?